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the poetry of science

Lessons Learned

Dinos in the Laboratory

Dinos in the Laboratory

by Kristy Dempsey

I present to you, my esteemed guest,
a theory putting all else to rest,
a scientific extinction story:

Dinos in the Laboratory. 
As archeologists dig down down down,
some curious items have NEVER been found,
perhaps providing us a clue
why dinos paid their mortal due:

  • No safety glasses on their eyes
  • No gloves or aprons, dino-size
  • No rules displayed on any wall
  • No regulations to follow at all
  • No fire extinguisher on hand
  • No first aid kit for quick demand

It’s plain to see in science class,
these dinos surely DID NOT PASS!
Did science make them go extinct?
I might be wrong. What do you think?
If you have your own suspicions,
don’t recreate these dino conditions.
Take my advice. Expect the worst.

Always remember, safety first!


Poem © 2014 Kristy Dempsey from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong © 2014 Pomelo Books; illustration by Frank Ramspott from The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for Kids © 2015 Pomelo Books.

Take 5! Activities

To set the stage for this poem, show images of dinosaurs from National Geographic Kids (Online Resources). Then read the poem aloud, pausing dramatically before and after the bulleted list.

Share the poem again, and invite students to chime in on the bulleted list of lines beginning with “No” while you read the rest aloud.

Use this poem as a prompt to talk about actual theories about dinosaur extinction. One resource is a fun six-minute video produced by National Geographic (Online Resources).

When it comes to science, it’s important to begin by talking about science safety procedures. Research together what your school, district, or community mandates for classroom and outdoor investigations. This might include wearing safety goggles, washing hands, using materials and equipment appropriately, etc. Then create a simple poster highlighting these guidelines—with or without a dinosaur image!

Link this poem with another about lab safety, “Things to Do in Science Class” by Laura Purdie Salas (Online Resources). Just for fun, seek out Robert Weinstock’s collection of dino poems, Can You Dig It? (2010).

Online Resources

Kristy Dempsey author website:

National Geographic: Dinosaur Extinction:

National Geographic Kids: Dinosaurs:

“Things to Do in Science Class” by Laura Purdie Salas:



Dempsey, K. 2014. “Dinos in the Laboratory” in The poetry Friday anthology for science, eds. S. Vardell and J. Wong, 190. Princeton, NJ: Pomelo Books.

Weinstock, R. 2010. Can you dig it? New York: Disney-Hyperion.

Interdisciplinary Literacy Early Childhood

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